I often felt that the Universe is eager to be revealed of its secrets and always waits for a dedicated personnel through whom the wonders can be poured. It could be anything, music, yoga or painting. But when the entire soul is devoted enough to please the supreme soul, the differences slowly melt and the passage between the consciousness dilutes and oneness is attained.
“Ek sadhe, sab saadhe.
Sab saadhe, sab jaaye…”,
(The one who practices one path, practices all the paths. The one who practices all, practices none.)
as my guru, Ustad Fahimuddin Dagarji often said.
And I am a lucky girl to have witnessed such a person, his aura, his be-ing, his way of life that is so filled with love, trance and blessings. I always felt an urge to run around to get him water or medicine throughout the day, because after these small favours, he would lift up his hands heavy with blessings and when they came upon my bent head, I always felt that the enlightenment of my soul lies in these hands and each time they land, they liberate my blocked energies that kept me held from God.
The whole day in his house passed immersed in music starting at early mornings with riyaz. And then the lessons began, mixed with vigorous practices and his demonstrations. Sometimes he went on to explain the depth and vastness of Indian Classical Music and its philosophy. The metaphors, parables and examples he used kept us almost swallowing every word he uttered. “Impossible is nothing, but possibility too is not easy”, this was often mentioned by guruji, not to discourage but to prepare his students with enough patience and will to toil and understand, for what they have chosen to dive in is not a mere puddle but an endless ocean which demands its divers to know the strokes to admire its beauty.
However, “love” in its property is never so specific. A person in love with his beloved ends up being in love with the winds, clouds and moon too. And imagine a person who has loved music so much that he dedicated his entire life and every breath to allow its waves to swell his soul, that he himself had become a fountain that oozed out love every second.
The tone in which he spoke, the way in which he taught, the gestures with which he corrected and the frown with which he scolded were all somehow so mingled with love.
Sometimes, in the evenings, when the gardener came and watered the plants outside and our lessons were still going on, I saw my guruji close his eyes and fill his lungs with the smell of the wet soil and a smile of divine peace lightened up his face slowly.
And the stray cat that was deprived of love in his entire harsh world, with ugly feet, black patch and a beaten back with sore, must also be wondering what made him so adorable to this man who looks at him so lovingly and calls out, “Kalooo… where have you been so long?”
“Dhrupad is not just bandish but the entire system”, said he. “Starting from how to pronounce each swar, it goes on to how it should it be presented and how much of softness should it have and how much strength does it require. Dhrupad is the entire science of the voice-culture and impartation of musical knowledge taking care of every stage and step, even keeping in account how one should sit and what one should wear.”
While singing a bandish dedicated to Devi Durga he explained, “This is not easy. One has to understand the entire personality of the god or goddess to present or dedicate the song. One has to allow that deiti to flow in so that music as a medium can find its way to that platform.”
Sometimes in the evenings he would go on singing ceaselessly and his eyes would seem lost and hazy with his palms held upward in prayer. As water tumbled down his eyes, his body lost touch from this world and his soul became one with that of the Universe through music. And I often asked myself, “What have I done so good in my life that brought me close to such a great man?”
He used to sleep late usually. When I woke up once after mid-night and came out of my room to drink water, I had a glance at his way of praying before he went to bed. A dim, yellow light was glowing in the corner of his room and guruji’s white hair and white clothes added to that ray. He held his palms flat and then joined them again to touch his forehead and muttered out his prayer. In that golden light, his shadow fell huge on the wall, partly merging with the darkness of the room and his watery eyes shimmered in that dark.
As simply as he opened his palms for prayer like a muslim and joined his palms together like a Hindu, that simply he could let go what is trifle and let in what is divine. His voice with equal devotion recited for Brahma and Allah. He was beyond the boundary of religions and beyond any pettiness that divided humanity.
He was a sage. Music was his medium.
Different days experienced different moods in that house. Sometimes, the air was heavy with explanations and discussions and sometimes maaji’s tea would set the air loose and her motherliness would enter. A joke, a taunt, a sip in the tea, a hearty laughter and a scolded student sad with his failure being consoled by maaji, were how the evenings slowly turned feminine with her participations.
The one month I spent in that house became a nucleus for my entire life. It created a space in me full of fertilizers and an area densely concentrated with energies I can keep withdrawing from, whenever I lack.
I thank SPIC MACAY to have given me this immense opportunity through its Gurukul scholarship program. In 2008, along with 2 other students I had gotten this opportunity.
In 2011, my guruji passed away or became one with the celestial music or the cosmic sound.
Links to know more about him:
His Voice: Raag Kedar
Guruji talks about the change in musical tradition
Guruji talks about religions and how one can go beyond